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Candidates for Cantuar: David Urquhart

After last week’s little flurry, we do not know whether the Crown Nominations Commission has made up its mind, but is going through administrative hoops, or whether it  has not made up its mind and is pretending to be going through administrative hoops in order to mask its failure to reach a decision. Either way, we are not likely to have a definitive answer for a while, so I propose to continue our gentle stroll through the presumed candidates. I think the bookmakers’ lists are increasingly unreliable, and many bookmakers have withdrawn from the fray. Certainly the rankings are all over the place. We will continue to use the original list.

And so we come to the Bishop of Birmingham, David Urquhart.



David Andrew Urquhart, born on 14 April 1952, was educated at Rugby  and Ealing Technical College Business School (BA 1977). Like Justin Welby, he then had a  career ‘in oil’, in his case with British Petroleum (1972-82).

He is not married. In the old days, the cryptic annotation ‘WHM’ (‘wife has means’) would have been looked for in Crockford’s when selecting a bishop – or indeed any priest expected to entertain on a lordly scale – but these days potential wives with private incomes are hard to come by.


Bishop David studied for the  ministry at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford and was ordained in 1984.  The Crockford’s entry is as follows:

* +URQUHART, The Rt Revd David Andrew. b 52. Ealing Business Sch BA77. Wycliffe Hall Ox 82. d 84 p 85 c 00. C Kingston upon Hull St Nic York 84-87; TV Drypool 87-92; V Cov H Trin 92-00; Hon Can Cov Cathl 99-00; Suff Bp Birkenhead Ches 00-06; Bp Birm from 06.

He became suffragan Bishop of Birkenhead in the Diocese of Chester in 2000. His succeeded John Sentamu as Bishop of Birmingham was announced in November 2006.


I have not been able to find any publications.


Bishop David has been described as ‘a low church evangelical’. He voted in favour of the Anglican Covenant, but apparently put no pressure on his diocesan synod to follow suit and in the event Birmingham voted against it. Bishop David, and the entire Birmingham delegation, voted in favour of adjourning the debate to enable reconsideration of  amendment 5.1.c, the position generally taken by those in favour of women bishops.


Bishop David joined the House of Lords in 2010 and is a spokesman on “Economy/Tax/Business; Foreign Policy; Local/Regional Government”. He was the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Envoy to China in 2006. And he is the Prelate of the Order of St Michael and St George, the order awarded to diplomats.

He is a very active member of the community in Birmingham, where he has been the Chair of the ‘Be Birmingham’ Summit of the Local Strategic Partnership.

Leap in the dark assessment

At his enthronement Urquhart was presented with a cope which incorporated various images related to his life and the city of Birmingham. These included a bagpiper, signifying his birth and upbringing in Scotland, a motorcycle which represents one of his hobbies, and the emblems of Aston Villa and Birmingham City FC, the two most prominent football teams from the city.

More interestingly, as a potential Cantuar, the cope also features a passage from Isaiah (58.12), written in EnglishMandarinHebrew and Gandan.

 “You shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets to dwell in.”

Could David Urquhart be the peacemaker, the unifying force, that we need?


7 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

I know very little about Bishop David.

At this late stage I would think that he is an outsider in the stakes to be the next Arch Bishop, but as it’s in God’s hands and that of the CNC, I see little point speculation.

Lay Anglicana said...

Thanks for commenting, E. I think the main point of continuing with these pen portraits is to build up a picture of the remaining diocesan bishops – and after all the Bishop of Birmingham is senior enough to warrant being in the House of Lords. I find it interesting for its own sake. Until now, when I have heard talk about ‘the House of Bishops’, I have had no idea of what these men were like as people. I grant you the process is flawed enough that I probably still don’t know them very well, but I do at least know what they look like. And I have some idea of their characters.

01 October 2012 20:39
01 October 2012 18:17
Matthew Caminer said...

Bagiper…. Is he a Scottish Episcopalian by birth then? If so, what better pedigree?!

No other comment to make really except that outsider sounds an appropriate description!

On the wider picture, what authority did Ruth Gledhill write in The Times with such certainty this morning? Was it real or was she inventing the news to have something to say, or inventing the news to influence the result?

Lay Anglicana said...

Well, we had a Welshman last time, so I suppose you could say it is the turn of a Scot!

You make a good point about this morning’s piece in The Times – my husband calmly assured me that the whole thing was settled (he gets first look at the paper!). As to what the truth of the matter is, I honestly don’t know. Someone was saying on Twitter that when Archbishop Rowan was chosen, it took a long time for the news to emerge as well. So it may just be that. I find it extremely hard to be patient!

01 October 2012 20:42
01 October 2012 20:11
Kate ardern said...

I ‘very had the great pleasure of meeting + David both in his present role and when he was at Birkenhead. He’s an erudite, highly intelligent, humble and compassionate man with charm, tact and the all important gravitas. His life story is a very interesting one having had career outside the church. He’s very well liked in Birmingham( one of my friends is a curate there) and is a strong supporter of female clergy and women bishops-the Dean of Birmingham is female. It’s a shame but for a variety of reasons, he probably would be considered an outsider but your leap in dark assessment, Laura, is very shrewd.

Lay Anglicana said...


04 October 2012 20:23
04 October 2012 20:12
Chris Fewings said...

I first met +David on a Good Friday walk between Birmingham’s two cathedrals instigated at short notice by ++Vincent Nichols when he was at B’ham. David seems to be completely at ease with strangers, eager to converse, with no airs and graces whatever.

04 October 2012 22:08

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